There have been some exciting new additions to the World Museum aquarium! Thornback and Undulate Rays have started to hatch and Rachel Ball, an Assistant Aquarist at World Museum Liverpool, sent us the good news...
The aquarium has been blessed this month with several new arrivals. The flipper-flapper (as opposed to pitter-patter) of tiny fins may be witnessed if one looks carefully into our native marine wedge tanks! Baby Thornback and Undulate Rays (or skates) have begun hatching from their large leathery egg cases after a lengthy incubation period of 6-7 months.
The egg capsules were laid in the native marine ‘rock pool’ exhibit in the Blue Planet Aquarium in Ellesmere Port where a successful breeding programme has been established for some time. It is fantastic that we are able to display the hatchlings here at the museum in order to raise awareness of the plight of these fascinating animals which are arguably the most vulnerable of all marine fishes. The UK is home to at least 11 species of egg-laying skates which use the shallow waters around our coast to breed and lay their eggs. They are very slow growing animals which produce relatively few young after taking over a decade to reach sexual maturity. They are thus struggling to thrive under today’s commercial fishing pressure such that the once Common Skate is now considered to be practically extinct from the Irish Sea.
We’re hoping that by successfully rearing these animals in the museum we are not only promoting captive breeding and collaboration between public aquaria but also encouraging visitors to appreciate the wealth of marine life which our coast supports and to take an active interest in its conservation.